Nearly 90,000 small businesses in the US set to close after Senate GOP kills Main Street relief bill

“The fate of these small businesses,” an advocacy group said, “will be tied to the senators who voted against this lifeline today.”

Independent Business Advocates warned that restaurants, gyms and other businesses on Main Street across the United States will be forced to close in the coming months after Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a $48 billion relief package for owners who have struggled to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

The bipartisan Small Business Covid Relief Act (S. 4008), which sought to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) passed last year, was co-sponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), but still failed to get more than five Republican senators to support him.

The vast majority of GOP lawmakers have argued that helping local restaurants and bars stay open and continue to employ people in their communities would worsen inflation and contribute to the deficit, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky. ) saying to the Senate that “pouring more money into the economy is just pouring $5 a gallon of gas on an already out of control fire”.

As a result, said Erika Polmar of the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), “we estimate that more than half of the 177,300 restaurants awaiting an RRF grant will close in the coming months.”

The bill would have given $40 billion to independent restaurants left out of the restaurant relief package passed last year, but short of funds in just three weeks, with only one in three applicants receiving grants.

“Ironically, this filibuster follows a solidarity vote at a similar level of funding with a group of European allies who have handled some of the worst effects of the past two years with much more grace and unity.”

“Local restaurants across the country were expecting help, but the Senate couldn’t finish the job,” Polmar said. “Neighborhood restaurants nationwide have held out hope for this program, selling their homes, cashing in retirement funds or taking out personal loans in an effort to keep their employees on the job.”

The RRF bill would also have given $2 billion for gyms and fitness centers, $2 billion for live event companies, $2 billion for bus and ferry operators, 1.4 billion for businesses near border crossings that have closed during the pandemic and $500 million for miners. league sports teams.

The Coalition of Community Gyms Told The hill that although a bill to replenish the RRF passed the House, the Senate “has failed to invest in fitness and exercise despite their clear benefits to the mental and physical health of Americans”.

“After hanging on for another year, injured restaurants and bars across America, especially in rural communities, may see no relief despite the House passing a bill this month. last to invest more money in the RRF”, mentioned Didier Trinh, Policy and Political Impact Director for Main Street Alliance (MSA). “The fate of these small businesses, including those owned by women and people of color who have been left behind, will be tied to the senators who voted against this lifeline today.”

With Wicker, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) were the only Republicans to join Democrats in voting for the bill. The Democrats needed at least 10 Republicans to back the legislation to reach the 60 votes required by the legislative filibuster.

“Senators who secured this fate instead of providing the relief small businesses need now must be held accountable,” tweeted MSA.

Tyler Akin, IRC board member and chief in Wilmington, Delaware, noted that the GOP’s rejection of the bill immediately followed a vote approving $40 billion military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine – more than $7 billion than President Joe Biden requested.

“Ironically, this filibuster follows a solidarity vote at a similar level of funding with a group of European allies that handled some of the worst effects of the past two years with far more grace and unity,” Akin said. . Told The Philadelphia Investigator. “It is clear that those who aligned themselves with the senator [Pat] Today, Toomey has little or no desire to support small businesses.

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